Tumblr is where tens of millions of creative people around the world share and follow the things they love.Sign up to find more cool stuff to follow
A Solidarity Statement from Occupy Colleges and Occupy Student Debt
A Solidarity Statement from Occupy Colleges and Occupy Student Debt
Written By Kyle McCarthy and Natalia Abrams
Occupy Student Debt and Occupy Colleges have recently merged because of our overlapping principles. Collectively, our beliefs are simple: we are here to advocate on behalf of students and to educate as many people as possible on the growing crisis of student debt. We are fighting for quality, affordable and accessible education for all students who want to obtain a college degree. Beyond that, we don’t have any demands as we are forming a broad coalition. We will never see debt forgiven in one large bill and how can we even ask for free education when tuition prices keep rising - how about we start with a tuition hike freeze before we ask for all education to be free? These are just a few of the questions that our alliance hopes to address.
Today, over 36 million people in the United States have student loans, while at least 1 out of 5 borrowers go into default. As highlighted in a short video we released, those who default are slammed with exorbitant fees and penalties, exploding and usurious interest rates, destroyed credit ratings, possible suspension of driver’s licenses, possible suspension of professional licenses, and more. For these reasons we have opposed the decision which encourages borrowers to voluntarily default on their student loans. If a million people were to actually default, this would be a dream come true for companies such as Sallie Mae who happens to own many collection companies as well. Due to heavy lobbying from these student lenders, consumer rights have been stripped away and lenders make far more if the borrower defaults.
Given that, we believe it would be a great disservice if we were to tell all borrowers that it’s in their best interest to voluntarily default. And we’re not alone on this decision - during a weekly conference call involving over 50 colleges, Occupy Colleges put to a vote whether or not to support voluntary default. The result? A unanimous decision opposing voluntary default.
Over the past several weeks, a letter has been circulating to the media, downplaying our involvement in the student debt movement. This is unfortunate because so many of us have worked so diligently to push this issue into the public spotlight and to create a meaningful dialogue that previously did not exist. Since last October, Occupy Student Debt has provided a platform for over 800 student borrowers to share their student debt horror stories and connected many of these victims to the media. Since we started this, several other groups such as Rebuild the Dream, Education Trust, and the Young Invincibles have started similar platforms for borrowers to broadcast their message- and kudos to them! This tells us that we must be doing something right.
Collecting stories is by no means where our work ends. Like many others, since September 17th, we have been attending marches, meetings, occupations and working with various occupy groups to shed light on this very serious issue. Occupy Colleges alone, staged over 10 direct actions, including reviving the teach-in with over 180 colleges nationally. In addition, we have supported others’ efforts in pushing for total student loan forgiveness by helping to gather over 31,000 signatures on the White House’s petition site, “We the People.” The result? President Obama announced the “Pay as you Earn” initiative as a direct response to the petition last October in Denver.
Is this where it ends? Absolutely not. We have continued to keep the pressure on because we believe education is a right. Those involved with Occupy Student Debt and Occupy Colleges have also fought to change Sallie Mae’s “unemployment penalty” with private student loans, addressed predatory lending through the arts, been arrested outside Sallie Mae’s DC office for protesting, protested outside the Sallie Mae shareholders’ meeting, worked with the The Backbone Campaign to deliver an 11-foot-wide ball of student debt to the Department of Education and, were intimately involved in the creation of “Occupy Graduation”.
More recently, we have been involved with an awareness campaign around HR 4170: The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012. To date, over 1 MILLION people have pledged their support for this bill and we have petitioned nearly every member of Congress to co-sponsor it. This bill would give relief to borrowers with both federal and private student loans- something the Income Based Repayment program (IBR) does not include. Another important component of HR 4170 is the “10-10” program which is retroactive and allows borrowers to pay 10% of their discretionary income for ten years with the remaining balance forgiven afterwards. Anyone interested in reading more about HR 4170 or to find out which members of Congress are co-sponsors, are encouraged to visit HR4170.com.
Some have questioned the probability of HR 4170 passing - that completely misses the point. Whether or not H.R. 4170 ever becomes law, we have already forced our leaders to pay attention to us and to pay attention to the issues that matter to the 99%. They now know that we WILL NOT stop. This is a stepping stone, so let’s build on it together.
In these turbulent times, it is important that groups working towards fundamental change in the world of student debt, stick together. Although we may not agree on every point, it is important to publicly support each other and imperative to work together on the issues that involve the 99%.
DIRECT ACTION FOR STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS
— OccupyStudentDebt (@owsStudentDebt)
DATE: July 11, 2012
FROM: Robert Applebaum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON—A campaign to encourage members of the House Education and Workforce Committee to schedule HR 4170, The Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, for a hearing rallied supporters nationwide today. The action was one of the top five trending topics on Twitter with over 9,000 tweets dedicated to it. Participants used the hashtag #ListenToTheMillion, a reference to the 1 million signature petition delivered to Congress last month in support of the bill. The goal was to encourage Chairman John Kline (R-MN2) to schedule the student loan forgiveness bill for a hearing so that it can be adopted into law.
HR 4170 provides a repayment program, called the “10/10 Plan.” Eligible borrowers who enroll in the program would be required to make ten years of payments at ten percent of their discretionary income, after which, the remaining amount would be forgiven. Unlike other repayment plans, the 10/10 plan does not require the borrower to be current on their loans, does not exclude private student loan borrowers from the program, and is retroactive for ten years.
The bill’s author, Rep. Hansen Clarke [D-MI] said “Over a million Americans are demanding that their lawmakers provide relief from student loan debt, improve access to higher education, and create jobs. As members of Congress, we work for the people, and when they demand action, it is our job to respond. I stand with the national grassroots movement to enact The Student Loan Forgiveness Act, H.R. 4170. We must take action to ensure that millions of Americans have the opportunity to pursue their dreams such as starting a business, working in public service, or buying a home.”
The event was a organized by ForgiveStudentLoanDebt.com, Occupy Student Debt, Occupy Colleges and Loan Reform Now.
Higher Education is a Right! Time to Re-establish Free Higher Education in the U.S.!
I have one Bachelor’s Degree and two Masters Degrees, and have been working in a career that has suited me. Since I was eighteen years old, I have been a proponent and recipient of free higher education. Admittedly, my story is about established middle class values and opportunities in this country. Still, here it is, and I hope it’s instructive:
When I was 18, I didn’t start college after high school. I needed a big change, an adventure. This was a time when high school graduates didn’t worry as much about the economy or future jobs; there was always some paid work to be found. (I wish that was the case now for all young people!) Anyway, I did a very unusual thing for the time – I left the country. It was akin to moving to Mars; no one I knew did anything like this at the time. I lived in France for almost two years working and traveling. What I noticed: unlike my friends in the U.S., my French friends went to university free of charge. My friends were students in education, sports coaching, law, physics, and cinema. I also had a German friend who studied, at no cost to her, to become a doctor. She studied for many, many years and worked hard, but she now has thriving career as a physician. Entrance into any of these university degree programs in European countries was not guaranteed; in fact, competition could be fierce, depending on the subject to be studied. But once a student was accepted, the focus was on learning, and preparing for an acceptable career with a living wage.
When I returned to the U.S. I was determined to find the cheapest way possible to get a Bachelor’s Degree in order to fit my newly acquired belief that free higher education is a right. Having lived abroad, I had already had a ‘rite of passage into adulthood’ experience, and didn’t need a four-year college for that. So I went to a local university in my home state for $1000 a year, and graduated 3 years later with no debt. I had part time jobs, and I worked hard for my degree and my grades. It wasn’t exotic but it was good for the bank account!
When I went to graduate school two years later at an Ivy League college, I received a full scholarship. And when I returned to graduate school again for a second Masters Degree, I received another scholarship. So in my career as a student in the United States, I have experienced free higher education.
I am grateful for having received scholarships for my education, but being dependent on scholarships for higher education turns higher education into a lottery system with winners and losers. Higher education is a right.
I now have two teenagers who will want, and need some form of higher education in order to make the necessary transition into adulthood doing work they enjoy that pays them a decent wage.
Americans need free public universities once again! This country needs free higher education for all who qualify at our public two- and four-year community colleges/universities. This is needed immediately!
And it’s something we can afford; this country is NOT broke. If we can bail out obscenely overpaid Wall Street executives, if we can give tax breaks and loopholes to corporate welfare recipients, if we can dole out to the Pentagon executives and their weapons manufacturing cronies more than $10 trillion to military misadventures for overseas oil wars, we can bail out student debtors and re-establish higher education as a right in the United States.
georgia state walk out
i spoke with a gentleman today who mentioned a student walk out tomorrow (10/14) 4 pm at georgia state to take a stand against budget cuts and the exclusion of undocumented students, and in solidarity with the occupations across the nation.
i also saw a tweet from @georgiastudents— if you want more information look there, or if you can find walker, the guy i was speaking with, he can give you more info.